Summer isn’t complete without the grill. It’s the best part of pool parties, picnics, and barbecues! But what if you’re trying to eat healthy? Can you still use the grill?
Definitely. Grilling isn’t limited to hot dogs and hamburgers. These meats might taste like tradition, but they’re not the most nutritious.
Hot dogs and hamburgers are full of sodium, cholesterol, and preservatives. Plus, eating charred meat may increase your cancer risk by damaging DNA.1 No thank you!
Instead, try these seven alternatives. You’ll get flavor and nutrition in every bite.
For a protein-rich meal, grill up some fish.2 Opt for fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and herring. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acid – a healthy fat that’s needed for brain function. It can also lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and decrease inflammation.3
In fact, by replacing red meat with fish, you’ll get better protection against chronic disease.4
2. Skinless Poultry
Like fish, poultry offers a healthier alternative to red meat. It’ll also do a better job at keeping diseases at bay.7
Eggplant is meaty and thick, making it the perfect veggie to grill. It tastes great in sandwiches! Simply slice and cook.
For a Mediterranean twist, use hummus or herbed yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
4. Portobello Mushroom
Portobello mushrooms are even meatier than eggplants. One mushroom is about the size of a burger bun, so they’re ideal for grilling.
With every bite, you’ll get folate, fiber, and potassium.10 Additionally, the flavor isn’t powerful, giving you room for creativity. For a summery vibe, pair it with grilled peach or pineapple slices.
5. Sweet Potato
Sweet potato fries are all the rage. If you’re a fan, grill sweet potato as a whole or in slices. It’s a lot healthier than your average baked white potato. Extra points if you use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.
6. Vegetable Burgers
You can’t go wrong with veggie burgers. They’re easy to customize and even easier to make. Simply toss the ingredients into a food processor or blender. Add your favorite spices, breadcrumbs, and an egg to bind it all. Form into patties and grill.
Often, beans are used in veggie burgers. One cup has roughly 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. Delicious options include chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans.13
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini also work well in burgers. For an extra protein boost, add quinoa.
Soy, like tofu, is a complete protein.14 This is pretty rare for plant-based foods. So, why not add it to your lineup?
Opt for firm tofu. You can grill large pieces, or add cubes to skewers for healthy kebabs.
Long gone are the days of hot dogs and hamburgers. This summer, do yourself a favor and eat well. You might even discover some new favorite dishes.
|↑1||Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. National Cancer Institute.|
|↑2, ↑4, ↑7, ↑13||Protein. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑3||Omega-3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑5||Food Exchange Lists. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.|
|↑6||Lean Meats and Protein. Mass.Gov.|
|↑8||Basic Report: 11210, Eggplant, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑9||Friedman, Mendel. “Chemistry and anticarcinogenic mechanisms of glycoalkaloids produced by eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 63, no. 13 (2015): 3323-3337.|
|↑10||Basic Report: 11243, Mushrooms, portabella, grilled. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑11||Basic Report: 11875, Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑12||Vitamin A. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑14||Michelfelder, Aaron J. “Soy: a complete source of protein.” American family physician 79, no. 1 (2009).|